Illini looking for more production from bench


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Illinois basketball is three games into the regular season and points from the bench have been hard to come by. The Illini (2-1) non-starters have only scored 34 points, just 14 percent of the team’s total. It’s not the end of the world, several teams only play seven or eight guys, but when fouls add up, backups are needed.

One of the projected biggest pieces to that unit was Tevian Jones, but the sophomore wing is suspended indefinitely for academic issues. That leaves just Alan Griffin, Da’Monte Williams, Kipper Nichols and Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk in the regular rotation. Griffin leads the way off the bench, scoring 24 points so far. The other three guys have a combined 10 points.

“I thought Kipper (Nichols) played with an aggression and was a help,” Illinois head coach Brad Underwood said following the Arizona loss on Sunday. “I think we’ll continue to see Ben (Bosmans-Verdonk) grow, you know I’m excited about him and then maybe now we get a little better feel for Ben, get a little better feel for Jermaine (Hamlin) and then we’ve got to have a lot more from Da’Monte, there’s no doubt about that. We need Da’monte to be a consistent figure in everything we do.”

Illinois has plenty of practice time ahead, with seven days off between games. The Illini don’t take the court again until next Monday, when Hawaii visits State Farm Center. It tips off a stretch of four games in eight days, all at home.

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